Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Writer?

Most likely.

Wait, that was out of blue. Ha-ha. Let me explain. (And start, as I should have, at the beginning.)

Believe it or not, I have few people around me who wish to take the same path I had and be a writer. When we talked, my question was always the same “What stops you?” In this era of technology, there are no boundaries – from sites where you can post your work to free blogs. And you can erase your work from any of them at any time. What these persons throw at me is

“I couldn’t be a writer. I don’t have what it takes.”

This made me question what it takes to be a writer. I took some time to think about this problem, and I finally have an answer. So, if you are one of these persons, please listen carefully!

Being a writer is not about degrees or courses! It’s not about being a certain age!

Being a writer is about having a way with words!

If you read enough, at some point you could create something yourself. All persons are creative whether they realise it or not. So to answer this question efficiently, I have to know a few things about you:

  1. Do you like to read?
  2. Do you like to create?
  3. Do you have a story to share?

And the most important one:

Do you want to be a writer?

If your answer was “yes” then congratulations! The next thing you need is to get started and stop procrastinating. No one is perfect. You will make mistakes – so what? I wrote my first novel at fourteen years old; I admit it could’ve beenw itten better. But if that story hadn’t been written, I would have never been where I am today.

We all start somewhere.

If you have a dream, you can spend a lifetime studying, planning, and getting ready for it. What you should be doing is getting started.

Drew Houston

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4 Ways to Advertise Your Book

Nowadays, it’s all about advertising. The field in which one works doesn’t matter very much. A good advertising campaign can make any product or service look then ten better than it really is.

Writers who go publishing the traditional way don’t have to worry about such trivial things. However, writers who choose the self-publishing path should consider putting a lot of effort into promoting themselves. Being unknown and without having their back protected by a publishing house are major decisive factors.

The advertising world is huge and a writer, when he begins his journey, can feel overwhelmed. I know it from experience. Unfortunately, I realised the importance of self-promoting after a year or so – and then I developed a strategy.

I want to share with you some of my tips on promoting yourselves. I hope you find them useful, and let me know if they work well for you. Also, in case you have other tricks, let the followers of this blog know by telling us in a comment.

  1. Be active on social media

That one was expected, I guess. However, notice that I said to be active. Having an account and posting a something when you remember won’t be enough. Also, don’t post only things related to your books. It will be boring, and you won’t be able to create your audience. The posts must vary according to the platform you use, and never ever post the exact same thing on all your social media accounts – only if it is a big announcement.

I suggest that you use many platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, LinkedIn (these would be the most important ones).

  1. Take advantage of special occasions (aka holidays, celebrations, birthdays)

You can shamelessly promote your book on special occasions such as Christmas or Easter. These events are the ones which urge people to buy gifts. What better way to say “I love you!” or “I care about you!” or “I wish you a relaxing time!” than offering a book? And I am sure your book is the perfect gift. You only have to find a way to not sound as if you force people or insist too much. Give them this option and tell them why it’s good.

  1. Post an excerpt

This one is tricky but is worth giving a shot. You can join a writing platform (Wattpad, for example) and post the first two chapters of your book. It will give your readers a taste of how the book would be and what’s your style. If they like it, they might not hesitate in buying it. But if they find the blurb interesting, but not the chapters, they won’t buy it, probably.

However, it’s nice to let them know what they’re getting themselves into. It shows your authenticity and you don’t wish to rob them of their money.

  1. Giveaways

Name one person that doesn’t love free stuff. Even more, name someone who doesn’t adore winning free things. There can’t possibly be a person like that. That’s the motive why you should, once in a while organise a giveaway. There are many platforms that can be used (I prefer Goodreads) and it will increase your audience. It will also show you’re generous and want to make your readers happy.

How to Correct Your Book Properly

As you know, I’ve always said that correcting your novel is not an easy job — it’s exhausting, boring, and it feels like wasting time, although it’s not.

Even though, let’s not forget this:

Everyone who edits their copy has a fool for an editor.

— Donald Davis

This comes to say: if it’s going hard, if you feel like you’re not doing a good job, you’re doing the best you can, and many (most) professional writer do have an editor. You might need to edit it more than once or twice and even ask other people about what’s their opinion (do they feel like there are plot gaps, irrelevant details, too many details) and then decide if you want or not to do something about it. It’s your book after all.

And never forget:

Different people have different tastes

It’s important that your book won’t appeal to everyone, but first of all, you have to like it. That’s what makes you authentic and invested in your work. You should like it. If, like the rest of us humans, you fear failure, I strongly suggest you read THIS post.

This is not the first time I touch upon the subject of editing, I shared a few different tips on how to edit your work before (HERE). However, I felt like I needed to deepen the subject; that’s why today I am going to speak only about the manner in which you can correct (from a grammatical point of view) your novel.

1. Use a specialised programme

Nowadays, technology eases our tasks and brings lots of benefits to our lives. Many programmes that aim to help the writers and bloggers around the world had been developed. Happily, there are also free versions of these. Although regarded with scepticism, they are very good. I’ve personally used Grammarly — the free version at first — which is easy to use and competent all the same. It might not find all the grammatical errors, but you’ll be surprised by it nevertheless. You can also choose whether you want to have the text corrected in the U.K. or U.S.A English. In addition to this, the program offers explanations for each correction. And you can also download the Microsoft Plug-in and this option is also available for Mac.

If you go for the paid version, there are even more features. Luckily, if you invite friends and they make an account, you both receive a free week of Premium Grammarly. Yay!

2. Get a beta reader

Beta readers don’t only tell you how can you improve your book overall. If you ask them, these persons can especially look after grammatical errors. This method is very nice because it helps you make friends and get to know people in this field. If you search thoroughly, you’ll find people willing to give a helping hand without expecting material benefits. These types of person can be usually found on different Facebook special dedicated pages or websites.

Warning: Be aware to whom you entrust your book. There are scammers and the so-called “bad people” who would/could steal your work. I would suggest doing a little research beforehand; that does not mean you should be paranoiac, just pay attention.

Besides, a beta reader can also give you his opinion regarding the book. If he or she can be integrated into the segment of the market you’re addressing to, his thoughts are very important when it comes to improving the quality of your work.

3. Contract an editor

If you want to take the self-publishing road and you have an amount of money at your disposition, you should consider contracting an editor. He’s a professional and a capable person with a vast experience in the domain. You can “steal” a few tricks and improve your writing in the future as well (just analyse the changes he makes/suggests). On top of that, the editor can be your connection to get to know other people in the field.

4. Don’t rush!

This one, I don’t think it comes as a surprise. However, I feel like I can’t stress it enough. Mostly, because I fell victim to this trap in the past, when I was a newbie (if you’re a newbie as well, I suggest you read THIS post). If you want to properly correct your book, you should be patient and not rush the process or the people you’re working with. Also, be open-minded and decide with your head whether you should or make a change, not with your heart — sometimes, pressing delete is very hard, but it’s also needed. Don’t be afraid to be merciless with your book. This is a good time to let listen to your inner critic a bit.

And also:

Avoid distractions

When you start editing, turn off your phone, don’t be the “I’m just going to check my mail once” or “just a quick look on Facebook/Twitter.” Although I’ve acknowledged the importance of music in the creative process (HERE), I advise you to keep it to a minimum.

If you liked this post please share and subscribe for more tips! Also, let me know in the comments below which tip do you find more useful and if you have any suggestions.

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Don’t Be Shy!

You might have already published something or you might still be on your way… No matter the situation, congratulations! Not many have the courage to take this path. Today, I’m going to get a little personal and talk about why you should not be shy when it comes to admitting that you’re a writer or talk about your book.

Believe it or not, although I’m a sociable and brave person, when I had to talk about my work with someone whom I knew, I instantly froze. It was not that I was ashamed, but I found it strange to talk about myself as an author, a writer. It felt uncomfortable. Should I know the persons, things only got worse. I didn’t want my friends or acquaintances to think I’m changed only because I managed to get my book in the market. I was afraid of being judged…

Talking about my books was just as hard. People would usually ask me “What’s it about?”, and I had to summarise it in a few lines. They would then, because of my anxiety and the brief talk, regard me uncanny and change the subject. Inside my heart, I was craving for letting others know what made me write a certain scene, or why did I start the book in the first place, but I was shy. Looking back in time, it’s not a big surprise since I was a teen author. Who does take seriously a fourteen-years-old girl?

It took me more than ten months to convince myself I should be very proud and not let the situation overwhelm me.

If you confront with something similar, know that you’re not alone. I’m not going to lie to you, the path won’t be easy, but you can overcome this feeling! Don’t be shy!

If you’re a newbie and still work on your book, don’t be afraid. You’re stronger than you can imagine.

There is no real secret which I can share with you. Everyone has to win this fight with his own forces in his very own way. We are different and respond uniquely to experience, but that’s a good thing. I wish there was something, but it’s not.

Believe in yourself! Don’t be shy! Don’t let anyone put you down, because working on a novel or publishing one is a big deal!

3 Tips for Better Editing

Today, I want to touch upon the editing subject. Editing is a very important part of the writing process. It contributes to polishing the work. This part, however, might be exhausting as it implies much patience and finesse. And when our perfectionist spirit kicks in, we better grip on something.

But editing doesn’t necessarily have to resemble a walk along the path of hell. I’ve discovered over the years how certain preparation could make the experience almost enjoyable. The short list that I’m about to present you does not only help with improving the experience but also with making the editing better.

So, without further ado, these are my 3 tips for better editing:

  1. Take a break

Haha. That’s, I think, the best thing one could hear when it comes to hard work, right? Can you believe that I’m not even joking? Let’s assume you’ve just finished your novella or novel. You’d want to get it done for good and start editing, probably. But the right thing to do is to let it cool for a while. You’re too caught in the story. Instead of frying your brain further, take a break of a month or two. It will give you a more objective view on your work and more patience. During the pause phase, do not touch the material, or think about it. Relax, do activities you enjoy and enjoy life.

  1. Read aloud

Editing is a tricky activity, especially when it comes to dialogue. In your head, the exchange of replies might sound perfect, but then, when you read aloud, it seems dull. When you engage more than one sense, your skills strengthen. It somehow makes the experience more real and gives you a quite objective work. It’s like you hear those persons speaking, and not read a dialogue. Also, reading aloud makes you realise whether or not the description is boring.

  1. Divide the editing into two phases

I observed that this works like a piece of cake. It’s a secret that no one wants to tell. Usually, when one edits his work he tries to take care of both style and errors at the same time. He might re-read his work to see if he’s satisfied with the results, and he’d still focus on both of them.

Editing should be divided into two phases: the style editing and the grammatical errors correcting one.

The author should start by looking at the composition as a whole, at the characters in order to make them believable and other things regarding plot and development. Unlike editors, writers don’t have the superpower of reading on letters – I know an editor with a vast editing experience and she lent me a trick or two -; that’s why the second round of editing should focus only on grammatical errors.

Mistakes Debutant Writers Make

  • They rush to finish the novel

I was not one of those people, happily for me. But I’ve read about many who had this problem. The main idea is that the writer should take his time to make the novel as good as it can be. Writing every day is important, but sometimes the lack of inspiration just kicks in. Don’t be depressed. Guess what? It happens to all of us. I refuse to believe that there is a person out there who has never had writer’s block.

Usually, when one’s in a hurry, he tends to be superficial. I’ve missed some important explanations in my debuting novel and I didn’t even hurry a bit.

  • They don’t take enough time revising

Revision is very important. It improves the book by creating better characters, setting the plotline, and correcting possible typing errors. Now, for the last part, let me tell you that there will be some errors. I’ve had plenty and swear I revised it twice and had two others persons checking it. I am not a machine and I do not read on letters (that’s how you detect typos).

Revising is like retouching a masterpiece. You work at it till you are more than content with the result. Be sure that in the future, after you’ve accumulated more experience you are convinced you could rewrite it way better. But the point is for you to make progress and to give your best at the moment!

  • They spent too much time thinking about what others may say

I personally had few moments like this when I would think “Wouldn’t they it is inappropriate for a teenager writer to describe it?” or “Maybe some will consider it too violent…” because you see, being a writer is hard enough already when it comes to criticism, but I was a teenager so the pressure was even higher. I’ve read hundreds of book, I knew how to describe things that I hadn’t done or been part of. But the question regarding how the society would look on it was in my head.

That’s why I advise you to not think about it. Criticism will come anyway. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 15 or 50; write what you want without being ashamed of it. It’s your art! It’s your thoughts! It’s your way of expressing things!

To overcome the last one, I leave you a beautifully written phrase which captures the process of writing.

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.

– Cyril Connolly

Connection (a Prompt-Based Short Story)


Okay, so I’ve seen this prompt and I have thought immediately it would fit two of my characters – namely Robbie Walker and Spencer White – from my debut novel (literally Destiny, show me what you can do!) and although it hasn’t been published in English, I’m sure you will like this short story.

I’ve never written a short story using my own characters so it will be a new and fun experience for me. Please, enjoy the journey!

Prompt: eye contact

Warnings: You may want to know that this scene, even though has never appeared in the book, could have happened. There won’t be any spoilers (I hope to have my book translated at some point in the future). Also, the book is written in the 1st perspective, but this short story is written in the 3rd one.

Please, do not take this story and post it somewhere else as your own. It’s not fair and it’s not nice. Plagiarism has never been looked up to.


Connection

The sun shines brightly. However, Spencer’s life is still deep into the darkness. Despair has caught up with her and it isn’t a surprise. After all, her beloved has no clue about who she is. It can’t be easy living like that, can it?

She is strong and tries her best to make him remember their love even through the most pathetic methods. She can’t help it; she would try anything. It doesn’t happen often to experience a love like they have. True love must conquer all in the end. That’s what she had learnt from reading so many books.

Hopefully, it wasn’t all in vain – because she also learnt that one must fight with his destiny in order to reach his dream. If she were anything, she was a fighter!

Love may come easy, but it is hard to keep. She knows it.

What should I try next? She questions herself while waiting patiently for the teacher to come.

As if college isn’t an energy drainer alone, she has these love problems which are sure to scatter her mind and heart.

It would be so simple to give up…

The door opens, but Spencer doesn’t lift her eyes. She’s too busy studying the blank page of her notebook, hoping it would somehow magically give her all the answers she needs. Chewing on her bottom lip, she writes Spencer White is not a quitter and He would do the same. Oh, yes! This last sentence helped her keep her sanity.

Suddenly, she feels a strange thrill going down her spine. She turns her head and sees him observing her. Her lips part in amazement. It was the last thing she was expecting – they don’t take the same classes.

Their eyes lock and time freezes. Not literally, but for them as they become unaware of the surroundings. She has the impression that he can see in her soul and know all of her concerns. Spencer has been an open book for him. His dark eyes burn her skin. She exhales softly. There’s electricity between them.

Robbie is, even though he doesn’t show it, just as affected as her. He can feel the intense atmosphere. There’s a strange and strong sensation that he knows her, but he can’t tell from where. It’s impossible to put his finger on it.

Robbie doesn’t appreciate being confused – what was he doing here, anyway? -, and most certainly does not like the way Spencer makes him feel. Men don’t have butterflies in their stomachs and their hands don’t sweat when they see a woman. For sure they don’t recognise the sparkle of love in a person who isn’t their lover. But why does his heart beat faster when she’s around? And why is he self-conscious in those moments? He thanks God that she seems unable to realise it.

The teacher enters the room in a rush, and Robbie curses under his breath because Spencer breaks the eye contact. It bothers him and the connection, the sense that there is some unfinished business between them is so real. Passing his palms through his dark as night hair, he sighs ever so silently. He hates feeling helpless and that’s how she makes him feel.

The line that was drawn between them was fading now. Robbie doesn’t want to lose the familiar feeling. Spencer is like an anchor to his past life. He wouldn’t admit it out loud, however. He is too proud for it.

He studies her, taking in her appearance, burning a hole in her head as he flatly stares – which is kind of rude, but he is not the one to care – while he contemplates the idea of getting up and leaving. It does not sound too bad…

The noise the chair is making when he actually gets up brings him unwanted attention, except for hers. Spencer watches him with wide eyes filled with love and comprehension. She wouldn’t mind if he walked away, of that much he is sure. Their continuous eye contact makes others uncomfortable as the silence expands.

Spencer gives him a warming smile.

He smiles back and sits down.

No one can understand but them. No one will ever know the power of a single, but meaningful eye contact.

Maybe there’s still hope. She thinks. I am sure the connection between us is meant to resist even destiny’s obstacles.